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Why do you take some medications with food? Do you have to eat a whole meal?

Often food is recommended because taking the medication on an empty stomach can cause a significant amount of gastrointestinal pain or distress. If your prescription label tells you to take the medication with food, then you can usually take that particular medication with a portion or two of your food of choice. In some cases, as with the drug metformin, which is often prescribed for diabetes, you may need to take the medication with a larger meal.

In addition, with some medications, you may be asked to avoid particular types of food. Food and some fruit juices, usually grapefruit juice, may significantly increase or reduce the effectiveness of a medication. One example of a bad interaction occurs when the drug buspirone is taken with grapefruit juice. This drug is normally taken for anxiety and is generally very well tolerated. However, a person who decides to take the medication with grapefruit juice could run into significant problems. Taking one tablet of buspirone with grapefruit juice (or even a few hours after drinking juice) can result in an effect similar to taking eight tablets. The person may become drowsy, nauseous and feel very ill. The bottom line? Always read your medication label, talk to your pharmacist and pay attention to warnings about food and juices.

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